SKETCHES OF EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA
From Fayetteville Observer -- May 11, 1859

Transcribed and shared by Catherine O'Briant     Posted November 05, 2007 by Myrtle Bridges


"I found this newspaper article of interest that mentions prominent points of history
that may be of interest to others researching North Carolina. ...As you read you'll see that
other counties are mentioned referring to notable persons and landmarks.
" Catherine

During the past few weeks it has been my good fortune to visit several
places interesting to myself and it may be to others. Not that as it may,
having a few lasting minutes, I propose to jot down some of the scenes and
incidents I have so much enjoyed.
  
  First, in point of time. While on attendance at Bladen Superior Court, I
resolved to visit the remains of an old Colonial Palace at Brompton, about 4
miles above Elizabethtown. Judge Heath consented to accompany me; Dr. H. H.
Robinson kindly furnished a carriage and horses, and Duncan Cromarie and
Thos. Norman, Esqs, the owners of Brompton, acted as our companions and
guides.
  
  The Palace was situated between the road leading from Fayetteville to
Elizabetown and the Cape Fear River. On walking towards Brompton from the
road, we crossed the old road, long since discontinued, but doubtless the
same down which the troops of Cornwallis marched from Fayetteville to
Wilmington after the Battle of Guilford Court House. We crossed the road at
what I conceive to be the point where Col. Webster was last seen alive--when
next seen a few miles below Elizabethtown he was dead. His remains now rest
on the Bellfont Estate, formerly Waddell's, lately General McKay's, and by
him devised to Bladen county.--The old road of which we began to speak is
now designated as the King's road.
  
  On approaching the river, we came to the ruins of a silk-worm house
erected by Gov. Gabriel Johnston for the culture of silk from the mulbery,
an enterprise which it is said he first inaugurated on the Cape Fear.
Leaving the ruins we crossed a ravine and came upon the ruins of Brompton
Palace, and traced its foundation walls and dimensions by the brick still
standing. The Palace was beautifully located so as to command a view of the
Cape Fear in front and up and down the river for some distance. In its rear
we found a well said to be 94 feet deep; a fact we could not determine,
having neither line nor plummet along with us. This much we can say, we
could not see the bottom. The well is curbed with rock, upon which grows the
greenest and most luxuriant moss I ever beheld.--We looked down into the
deep well, out upon the broad river, and up the ravine before mentioned, as
well as up the valley of Baker's Creek, and came to the conclusion that
Brompton Palace was designed to stand in one of the loveliest places North
Carolina can boast. The elevation is upwards of a hundred feet from the
river; the foliage is gorgeous, and the creek and ravine lead one to imagine
that the spot itself is an island, inaccessible save by drawbridge or
portcullis. Why Gov. Gabriel Johnston failed to complete "Brompton" must
ever remain a mystery. Some say his lady preferred the banks of the Neuse
and Trent, and the society of Newbern, to the banks of the Cape Fear and its
solitary wilderness.
  
  After strolling about for an hour or two, and cutting several walking
canes from the groves of Brompton Palace, we bade adieu to the enchanting
scenery, regretting that the business of Court would not permit us to
indulge ourselves over the vagaries and phantasies of the past.
  
  The week after Bladen Court, business connected with a history of Masonry
in North Carolina led me to visit the Lodges which had called into existence
the Grand Lodge of 1787. In my peregrinations I visited Newbern; but as
seance a year has elapsed since I wrote from there, I must not again essay
to do so. I found my visit to the Lodge one of much and deep interest. There
I found relics of the past, things venerable for their antiquity and
valuable for their worth, all of which I hope to weave into Masonic history.

From Newbern I went to Kinston, long the home of Caswell, and two miles west
of which his remains repose. Through the kindness of my friend, Walter Dunn,
Jr., Editor of the American Adrocate, I was enabled to ride out to the grave
of Caswell, on the Desmond plantation. He is buried between his two wives,
surrounded by his descendants. The white and red oaks, persimmon and cedar
trees wave their branches above him; a stalwart oak grows right out of his
grave, and wild palmetto bushes are springing up all around. A gentle breeze
was blowing, and the setting sun bathed the evergreen pines and spring
foliage in its own golden tints. The slope towards his loved Neuse is gentle
with a gradual ascent in the opposite direction towards the railroad.
Nature has been manificent in adorning the grave of one of North Carolina's
first Governors, but to our shame be it said, neither private friendship nor
public gratitude has done aught to mark the spot of his repose. There is not
even a fence of any kind around Caswell's grave, and yet in his will, which
I read in the County Court office, he devises two grave-yards for the
benefit of his friends and relations, one at the "Hill," the other at the
Red House. His first wife's maiden name was MacElwaine, his second Heritage.
That night I strolled around Kinston by moonlight, and next morning, in
company with Mr. Strong, looked with veneration on the old castle where the
Legislature used to meet. It is now a boarding house. Nothing now remains of
Caswell's town residence on the Neuse, except a maple tree, which begins to
show signs of decay.
  
  From Kinston I came to Goldsborough, thence to Rocky Mount, thence to
Tawborough, the town where the convention of Lodges first met in 1787 to
form a Grand Lodge. From some information obtained at Tawborough, I find the
convention was called to meet at Fayetteville by Union Lodge at an earlier
period, but as a majority of all the Lodges in the State were not
represented, the convention adjourned to meet at Tawborough. At his place I
obtained invaluable documents from my antiquarian friend the Hon. H. T.
Clark.
  
  Tawborough is one of the most beautiful towns I have ever seen; there is a
more general display of taste and architectural beauty than in any town in
North Carolina. In front of the Court House a monument is erected to the
memory of Col. Louis D. Wilson, who died in Mexico, but whose remains are
interred in Edgecombe, a county to which he gave, as his monument declares,
the bulk of his estate. I left Tawborough sooner than I designed, and left
it with regret.
  
  From Tawborough I came to Windsor, Bertie county.
  
  From Rocky Mount via Tawborough to Windsor, the road should have been
familair to me, yet such are improvements in farming and buildings it was
not so. It looked as if I were traveling in a strange land. Seventeen years
ago I started out into the world as a Schoolmaster, and Providence cast my
lot near Windson, in Bertie. As I neared the Oak Grove Academy, and beheld
the building through the branches of the trees, and though of the fifty
smiling faces and happy hearts, I was accustomed daily to meet, I was
forebly reminded of the sentiment,

"The recollection of youth is a sigh"

I  dismounted and looked through the window into the school-room, where for
two years may voice had been law. But the children were not there; they had
grown up to be men and women. Some are reflecting honor on the history of
other States, whilst some have passed away--

"To the land of the leaf"--

leaving children who in many respects reminded me of their gentle and loving
mothers. I spent near a week amongst my old scholars and friends, and it is
set down as one of the happy weeks of my life.
  
  Whilst in the county I visited the Oaks, so long the home and now the
grave of William W. Cherry, a man whom I loved at first sight, and whose
memory I now revere. I saw his portrait in the parlor of my friend Joseph B.
Cherry, Esq., who now resides at the Oaks.
  
  In company with my friend, P. H. Winston, Esq., I spent a day at the
Fisheries. Remembering what Porte Cayon had said about the ill-favored
specimens of female beauty to be found there, we were fortunate in having
for our companions two of North Carolina's fairest daughters, who added much
to the pleasure and enjoyments of the day, and I have no doubt enabled the
gentlemen more successfully to preserve their equanimity of temper. From
some misunderstanding we were compelled to row the boat two or three miles
down Cachoc Creek, then some half a mile or mile down the Cashie river. He
never had handled an oar; I had not in 24 years. The creek was crooked and
had forks and prongs either one of which might have carried us to
Cambuskenneth, for what I know. Coats off, and at it was the word. A few
strokes, and the next minute the boat was floating stern foremost, amidst
shouts of laughter and song. Experience is a great teacher; we leaned to row
together, and soon Terrapin Point have in sight. There we saw the fishermen
make four hauls, averaging about 400 herrings, 20 shad and one sturgeon.
After a fish fry, we were carried in a boat some four miles to Capeheart's
one of the largest fisheries on the Sound; but the herring were perverse and
we did not see the quanity handed that we expected or desired. We left
Capeheart's and after a sail of some seven miles reached our carriage, and
by 8 or 9 o'clock reached home, tired but happy from the exhilarating scenes
of the day. I left Bertie with regret. Friend W. accompanied me to Terrapin
Point, where we parted--I hope to meet soon.
  
  The Court House at Windsor was built under the Colonial government, and
has been but little altered. A portion of the floor is still of brick. Two
of the streets are still named King and Queen streets.
  
  From Windsor I came to Terrapin Point down the Cashie on the steamer Alice
 after which, we went up the Roanoke to Plymouth, where I found the Curlew
bound for Edenton, and as I cannot leave here for three days, i will close;
promising to write something from this old colonial town.    B

 Transcribed and shared by Betty Lee Streckfuss 

Johnston Co. NC (by Unknown author)
Many settlers came from Virginia or from the "Albemarle Country" that lay in 
the northeastern NC just below the Virginia border and these pioneers moved 
down a trail call, "Green's Path". Name Green associated with earliest years of 
settlement in NC, moved from VA to NC before 1653. Joseph Boon in 1739 
received parcels of land on the north side of Neuse in what today's Johnstonians 
know as Boon Hill Township.  Boon families migrating from Northampton County just 
below the VA border perhaps using Green's Path for their southward journey. 
Researcher James P. Smith - a Smithfield Presbyterian minister who in the 
1930's and 1940's uncovered much valuable information concerning the beginnings of 
Johnston County - wrote an article about Green's Path that was published in 
the Smithfield Herald (reprinted in the History Section of the Harvest Edition, 
August 1951).  Having studied land records as well as early 
North Carolina maps, he concluded that Green's Path after entering Johnston 
County from the north forded the Neuse River between what is now the village of 
Wilson's Mills and the Town of Smithfield, crossed Swift Creek south and west 
of the winding river, and continued southwestward through the region that 
became Harnett County, ultimately reaching to the upper PEE DEE RIVER in 
SOUTH CAROLINA.  Old maps of North Carolina show the path following a course 
that does not veer many miles from HIghway 95 in our time... Original Johnston 
Co., encompassed not only most of the elongated Neuse River region rising 
northwest of New Bern but also extensive lands west of the river's head waters 
stretching more than one hundred fifty miles from the flatlands of the Coastal 
Plain in what is now Lenoir County (Kingston area) to the elevations of the 
Piedmont in the part of North Carolina that gave birth to Greensboro and 
Burlington in the nineteenth century. 
     From 1705 to 1746 this sprawling region having no distinct western 
bounds as it reached toward the Appalachian Mountains, lay under the jurisdiction 
of a governmental unit that took the name CRAVEN County in 1712.  Craven's land 
had been included in a precinct established by Lords Proprietors who held 
title to North Carolina from 1663 to 1729 under a grant from the King of 
England.  New Bern, founded in 1710 by Swiss and German settlers, became the 
Craven County seat of government, and it was the principal meeting place of 
the colonial lawmaker many years before it was officially designated as the 
colonial capital of North Carolina in 1766. 
     The Colonial Assembly sitting at New Bern in 1746 noted, in adopting the 
act that established Johnston County, that many inhabitants of Craven lived 
in regions "very remote from New Bern Town" and encountered "difficulties and 
hardships not only in attending the ordinary business" of the County Court 
(which exercised administrative as well as judicial authority), but also in "being 
compelled to serve as jurymen" and as witnesses at trials.  The remedy for 
these irksome conditions - a courthouse at Walnut Creek - was sufficient for 
only a dozen years.  The migrations of ...  And Johnston, like its parent CRAVEN, 
would surrender land repeatedly for convenient local government, two of the 
early partitionings requiring courthouse relocations. 

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